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Water Shortage of Yangtze River Unconnected with Three Gorges Project
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Chinese hydrology experts have denied that last year's serious drop in water levels in China's longest river, the Yangtze, are connected with the Three Gorges hydroelectric project.

The Yangtze River hydrology bureau attributed the drop to lower rainfall on the upper reaches and serious drought along the river.

Yangtze water levels hit a record low in 2006, while its tributaries dropped 30 to 60 percent below average levels, according to the bureau.

The flow at Yichang City of Hubei Province, where the Three Gorges dam is located, was 284.4 billion cubic meters last year, 64 percent of the average, the lowest since 1877 when records began.

The level in the Three Gorges reservoir reached the 156-meter mark in October with a storage of 8.65 billion cubic meters in 2006, three percent of the total water flow in the city, according to the bureau.

Even if the reservoir had stored no water, the flow at Yichang City would have hit a record low, said Cheng Haiyun, bureau chief engineer.

Begun in 1993 and costing an estimated 180 billion yuan (US$23 billion), the Three Gorges Project on the middle reaches of the river will have 26 generators when it is completed in 2009 and be able to generate 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually.

(Xinhua News Agency January 9, 2007)

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